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Life After iOS 14: Ecommerce Marketing Strategies Outside of Facebook

Vincent Wong September 22, 2021

Life After iOS 14 Ecommerce Marketing Strategies Outside of Facebook

iOS 14 introduced huge changes in the digital marketing world. With iOS 14, iPhone users can opt out of tracking from any app downloaded from the App Store. According to data published by Flurry, 94% of iOS users chose not to be tracked by apps. 

Changes in app tracking transparency have affected online advertisers in different ways. Facebook announced some implications for paid advertising campaigns on its platform.

Businesses that advertise mobile apps, as well as those that optimise, target and report on web conversion events from any of our business tools will be affected.

Specifically, Apple will begin to require that apps in the App Store that engage in what Apple defines as “tracking” to show a prompt to iOS 14 users, in accordance with their AppTrackingTransparency framework. 

Since the release of iOS 14 has had such a large impact, we thought it would be a great time to reflect on what these changes have meant across the online business industry.

At the end of this article, you’ll have an idea of what the tides of change have brought and how you can diversify your marketing channel’s tips to fortify your business.

How iOS 14 Has Affected Facebook Advertisers

The iOS 14 update rolled out the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) feature, which gave iPhone users the choice to opt-in or opt-out of tracking. iOS 14.5 made the option even easier via a pop-up prompt when an app is opened after the latest iOS update.

Some of the effects of iOS 14 on businesses, as reported by sellers in forums, include the following:

  • Sales dropped over several weeks after the update
  • Conversion rates have been wildly inaccurate from the Ads Manager dashboard
  • Sellers don’t know which ads to duplicate or remove
  • Retargeting is impossible from Facebook Pixels
  • ROAS decreased

As seen above, small business owners are struggling to adapt to these changes. Some e-commerce entrepreneurs are even considering advertising on a different platform to recoup their losses. Let’s explore why tracking user data changes for Apple mobile devices is causing such a disruption in the digital marketing world.

Less Tracking Limiting Facebook Ad Performance

From Ads Manager, the data collection change means that the breakdowns of user demographics and actions, such as region, age, and gender, are much more limited than before. Additionally, conversions are viewed over a 7-day click view instead of the previous 28-day view.

With fewer metrics available to marketers, it is harder to make smart optimizations on PPC campaigns.

However, several experienced ecommerce marketers have noted that they haven’t felt the impact as much on their Facebook ad campaigns. Here are some strategies to improve Facebook ad performance for iOS devices, as shared by the sellers who weren’t as affected by the privacy changes:

  • Claim ownership of your business’ domain through domain verification under “Brand Safety” from your Business Manager dashboard
  • Manually choose eight Conversion Events in order of importance to your business from the Events Manager (due to Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement limits)
  • Create different ad sets for Android and iOS users and consider expanding the number of ad sets based on interests so that you can target single interests
  • Implement the Conversions API and set up UTMs for better tracking.

Aside from the measures above, you can implement other digital marketing strategies outside Facebook to drive traffic to your products.

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How You Can Limit the Damage

iOS 14 is a big change affecting anyone who advertises on Facebook.

However, we’ve worked with many successful ecommerce businesses over the years, and on most occasions, it’s the ones who have built an audience that are not completely subservient to external algorithms that can ride the waves of an ever-changing industry. 

Facebook advertising is only one way to build an audience. Brands such as Warby Parker and MVMT Watches have shown how diversifying marketing channels is a great way to collect feedback from potential customers and build social proof for a far-reaching audience.

There are several advertising strategies that these household names use that you can leverage for your own business. Let’s look at other digital marketing strategies you can consider when you’re trying to revamp your advertising campaigns.

Build an Email List

Building an email list is a powerful way to grow an audience outside of Facebook. Over time, you can generate a large number of subscribers that drive traffic to your online storefront.

An email list is valuable because the audience you build can be addressed at any time. Email marketing is also valuable because it is independent of search engine and social media platform algorithms.

There’s little up-front cost to start building an email list outside of subscribing to software (and many email list builders have free pricing plans, such as Mailchimp). 

On top of being cost-effective, the risk of your email list being banned or blocked is relatively low. Follow the email marketing guidelines set out by the General Data Protection Regulation to avoid your email list being flagged for unethical practices or being marked as spam.

iOS 14 caused issues with reporting on Facebook paid advertising campaigns. With email marketing, you can see a breakdown of some metrics to illustrate how useful the email was to subscribers. Some of these metrics include who received your emails, how many subscribers clicked on your links, which links received the most clicks, and what the average click-through rate was. 

Seeing the information presented clearly improves your email marketing so you can make better optimization decisions.

Another useful way to leverage your email list is to create lookalike audiences on Facebook once you’ve identified an audience who has opted into your sales funnel.

To scale your email marketing, focus on refining your sales funnel with segmentations and automations based on actions. Check out this in-depth guide about building an email marketing funnel for more information. 

Test Paid Advertising Campaigns on Other Platforms

Facebook is a popular social media platform for paid advertising. If your paid ad campaigns have been affected by the iOS 14 privacy changes, consider advertising on search engines or other social media platforms instead.

Many businesses in our marketplace diversify their paid advertising campaigns on search engines, such as Google. 

YouTube is another platform on which you could start running ad campaigns, since video content is growing in popularity.

If you’re still searching for a way to make social media paid advertising work for you, make sure you check out this episode of the Opportunity podcast, where Sarah and Branden speak to Renae Christine. Renae Christine is a successful entrepreneur and social media influencer who built her seven-figure business empire on her own by acquiring smaller businesses that synergized with each other. Paid advertising on social media was one of her key growth strategies.

Renae shared that she treated paid advertising like a video game: start small and test what works, then double down on the types of ads and platforms that gave the best ROI. To learn more about how she’s built a social media empire, make sure you check out this episode!

Build Your Organic Reach

SEO is one of the highest-converting customer acquisition channels, and for this reason, we recommend that all online business owners invest some time and energy into building their own organic traffic. The reason for the high conversion rates could be because people tend to trust the content they’ve found on their own more than paid ads on search engines.

While organic traffic takes time to grow, you can establish a great hands-off traffic stream that drives traffic to your storefront without any advertising spending.

One of the best ways to generate momentum for organic growth is to establish a content marketing strategy. Once you’ve identified your target audience, start producing valuable content that will help potential customers solve a problem.

Keep in mind that organic traffic is like a flywheel. The work is front-loaded, and you’ll need to put in a lot of the labor yourself at the beginning before you start seeing results. However, it’s cost-effective because you don’t need to spend anything to create and publish the content.

To scale your content marketing, you’ll need to outsource content creation to competent and knowledgeable writers. Training new writers will become easier if you document the editorial process and have a style guide you can forward to freelancers.

Tune in to our Director of Marketing Greg’s brief guide on how to create your own content marketing strategy from scratch.

Exploring Other Social Media Platforms

If you’re advertising only on Facebook, then you’re putting all your marketing eggs into one basket.

If you’ve been affected by Apple’s iOS changes, building an audience organically on other social media platforms could be a great opportunity to diversify your social media reach outside Facebook.

For example, we’ve seen sellers leverage Pinterest as a strong organic traffic source as well as a revenue stream. Visually intriguing content tends to perform well, so it’s worth considering Pinterest if you have a product or design team, or processes to create eye-catching creative assets.

If you’re good at driving engagement and know how to take a good picture, Instagram is another social media platform that favors visual content. You might consider Instagram over Pinterest if your target audience is a younger demographic or if you think they hang out there instead. 

Keep in mind that you’ll need to post regularly to stay top of mind while you’re building your audience. According to The Refinery, the average lifespan of Instagram posts is 24 hours, while Pinterest posts stay relevant for up to four months.

Facebook advertising may have constituted the bulk of your advertising strategy. With the tips described above, you can start planning other ways to drive traffic towards your storefront. Some of these customer acquisition channels could be more cost-effective than pay-per-click advertising, which could save you time spent on optimizing your paid ad campaigns and money spent on running paid advertising.

With Change Comes Opportunity

Although Apple’s IOS changes disrupted paid advertising performance for some ecommerce sellers, keep in mind that advertising on Facebook is only one of several ways to build an audience.

Use this opportunity to start diversifying your customer acquisition channels.

The next time digital marketing rules change (and it will happen), your business will be in a much better position to ride through the challenge.

If you feel like the latest iOS 14 changes have taken their toll on your ability to run your business, there’s another option available to you: sell your ecommerce business. Many sellers on our marketplaces part ways with their businesses for similar reasons, such as taking an asset as far as they can go until they cannot scale it any further.

There’s never been a better time to exit your business. Many buyers are in the market for profitable ecommerce assets to run as their own businesses or roll up into their portfolios. We have over $4 billion in verified funds from buyers ready to be deployed in acquiring businesses like yours.

Try our free valuation tool to see how much your business is worth. If the estimate is close to your expectations, schedule a call to speak with one of our business analysts to start your exit planning.

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